This op-ed provides describes the reaction against the surveillance programs conducted by the US and other cooperative governments against foreign citizens. The programs are legal in the US but they strongly violate the right to privacy that is more strongly held in Germany than it is in the US and its english speaking allies. Germany has experienced what can happen to democracy when national security trumps the right to privacy. The surveillance of protest groups in the US and environmentalists is also legal under current law. It is not clear that the privacy rights of American citizens are protected by those who oversea NSA and other pubic and private intelligence organizations. At the very least, the government needs to explain how our right to privacy is protected by those who oversea these programs. It is not reassuring to learn that the Senate Intelligence Committee would not allow a former aide to explain how it operates to protect our privacy rights.
I am pleased that opinion makers like Tom Friedman were criticized for their stance on this issue in this article. Friedman was one of the leading advocates for the invasion of Iraq. That war accomplished none of the outcomes that were used to justify the war. Now Friedman tells us that we need these surveillance programs to protect us from another 9/11 which would only lead to stronger surveillance programs. This argument assumes that the current programs will protect us from another 9/11. It is not clear that these surveillance programs can accomplish that. I have come to the conclusion that anything that is advocated by Tom Friedman is a step in the wrong direction.